Bothering God

A reflection for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12, year C. 

"Knock and the door shall be opened unto you."

After two and half hours, I pulled up at the front entrance to the hospital at 9:10pm. It was an emergency. As Pastor, I was there to offer comfort to the family of a child who had been life-lighted to here for emergency care.

I didn't know where to park in the large medical complex. So I walked up to the front doors to ask the security guard where the best place to park was. "I'm sorry," he said, "No one is allowed in these doors after 9:00pm."

I was stunned. Somewhere inside was a very scared family. Somewhere inside were the people I had driven two and a half hours to sit with and offer comfort to. It was 9:10!! It took me 10 minutes to drive around the detour a block from the hospital. But the guard did not move.

I looked at the building one last time, and I made up my mind.

I put my car in the nearby parking garage, and walked into the other hospital - the one across the street. I signed in, and took the elevator to the second floor. So far so good. But where to next? I walked to one end of the hospital. No luck. I looked in all the little side corridors.

Finally, after 40 minutes of walking I found it. The sky bridge from this hospital to the one across the street - the one where no one is allowed in the front door after 9pm.

I walked across the sky bridge, and a nice doctor held the door open for me. I had a great visit with the patient and family. Exactly what I came there for - and exactly what they needed.

And then I walked out the front door past a confused security guard.

I knocked ... but the door was not open. But I didn't give up. I continued to knock, and to seek ... and seek ... and seek, until I found a way.

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus compares our prayers to a neighbor who knocks on the door in the middle of the night (Luke 11:1-13). Knock loud enough and long enough, says Jesus, and you will wake up the homeowner. Don't give up. Sometimes, we need to bother God with our prayers. Not once, not twice, but again and again.

Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you ... But if not, then knock again!

I wonder if we worry about being too polite with our prayers. If we don't really want to disturb God.

Jesus tells us to come to God with all the enthusiasm of a child who sees something that she just HAS to have. Jesus advises us to pray with the desperation of someone in need in the middle of the night.

So go ahead. Bother God.
Take lessons in knocking from Dr. Sheldon Cooper


3 comments:

  1. I love the image of Sheldon Cooper knocking on the door as an image for us knocking on the door for God: "God!" "God!" "GOd!"...

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  2. Your story here is perfect, and touches on the thing about this text that I've been really honing in on: that prayer is prayed with words AND it is prayed with hands and feet. Bothering God and your pursuit of your people are mysteriously and intimately wrapped up in each other.

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  3. An incredible reminder to never give up - even in our darkest moments, just keep knocking. And Pastor Mike, I LOVE the concept of praying with words and hands and feet!

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